As someone who always needs more motivation to make time for writing, I’m so thankful that Danielle of Sometimes Sweet, has started the Journal Days project. So what is Journal Days? Well, every Sunday Danielle is sharing a prompt and on Thursday will be publishing her reply. Everyone participating is asked to comment on the post with a few lines from their response and a link to their post. I think one of the coolest things about blogging is the community surrounding it – so this is really a win, win for me! Feel free to join along, too! It’s never too late to start. Anyway, enough rambling. On to this week’s prompt…
Would you consider yourself a religious person? Quite simply- what do you believe happens when you die? Have you always believed this? Do your current beliefs align with what you were taught as a child? And if not, what was the turning point? This week, talk about your religion or spiritual beliefs (or perhaps your lack of), and try to sum up, if you can, what you believe happens “next.”
Honestly, religion has never been a big part of my life. My mom was Jewish and my dad was Catholic, and they agreed to raise me and my brother with exposure to both but no pressure to practice either. So what that meant was we celebrated Christmas and Hannukah; sometimes I went to temple with my grandma, other times I gave something up for Lent with my other grandma. Honestly, this never really bothered me and as a kid I just sort of coasted along not thinking about if I believed in God or what happened after we died – most kids don’t think about that stuff, right? But then my mom got sick with cancer and I started to question what exactly this meant and ask if there WAS a God, how could he allow my mom to be sick and dying?! But my mom never doubted. I honestly think her faith got stronger as she got sick. She wasn’t devout to her Jewish faith by any means, but she definitely believed in a higher power and always said “The 10 commandments are just a good way to live your life!” She also was positive that there was a heaven and she would be able to watch me and my brother grow up. She even said that she would close her eyes when we needed our privacy. Haha.
Once my mom was gone, I didn’t really think about religion or God anymore. I started to care more about Jewish holidays because it was a connection to my mom in some way. But I was 16, so honestly, religion was the last thing on my mind. I went on til I was 20 pretty much feeling the same way. I always labeled myself agnostic, but kind of assumed I believed in some sort of God. Because that’s normal right?
Then in the summer of 2010 I became a nomad for LiNK and I finally felt like I found a group of people who understood my passions. I was surrounded by other people who wanted to dedicate their lives to helping others. And want to know what a lot of them had in common? A lot of them were Christians. So once I was done at LiNK (at least for the summer – we all know I ended up back at LiNK less than a year later), I found myself back home wondering if maybe I should start going to church and pursue faith in some way. Luckily, my best friend Brianna is a Christian and was willing to talk to me and help me figure stuff out. And my other best friends, Ally and Bailley aren’t so they were there to talk to me about what it means to not really have faith and be okay with it. Basically, after lots of talking and wondering – I decided to go to church. And at first, I loved it! I was surrounded by rad people and it felt like built in friends. But as time went on I realized I was there for the wrong reasons. I didn’t believe in the words I was hearing and I didn’t feel anything when I sang along with the praise band. I loved being around awesome people and I agreed with a lot of Christian values but it wasn’t for me. (Want to know something funny? I bought a Bible during this time and hid it in my room because I felt so weird about it and because I had been so agnostic for so long. Looking back now I realize how ridiculous that is but at 20 you’re worried about being judged, ya know?)
Flash forward to now? Well, I know even less than I knew before. I guess I would label myself agnostic once again and I think I’m okay with that. I look around at my friends who are so sure of their faith and I get jealous – I would love to feel that. Especially when it comes to an afterlife. I would LOVE to believe my mom is able to watch my life and that I’ll be able to see her one day. But I can’t fake it. I think I’m someone who needs a bit more proof or for whatever reason, just can’t get on board with the idea of a God. Like I definitely don’t believe Jesus was the son of God, I don’t believe in the Virgin Mary, or really anything like that but I do think the bible has some good stories in it to help us learn how to live our lives (though I’ve never read the whole thing). I’m more unsure about my ideas surrounding a higher power in general… Like maybe I believe in some sort of God. Or maybe I believe in some sort of way we all stay connected even after death. Or maybe I just believe in the universe.
Speaking of afterlife, lately I’ve been playing around with the idea that when we die, and our bodies breakdown, we end up back in the Earth somehow. Maybe mom is part of a tree I pass every day, or in the clouds, or in a flower or maybe even in the person I meet on the bus. I have no idea. That probably doesn’t make sense to a lot of people but lately, it’s made me happy to think about so we’ll see where it goes from there.
Pretty much the only thing I 100% know I believe is that the most important thing we can do while we’re on this planet is love each other. I believe it’s our job as humans to care for one another – even strangers, even the “bad” ones, even people you will never know. I think all we can do while we’re here is be good to each other because who the hell knows what happens next. So whether you’re Christian, or Muslim, or Athiest, or Jewish, or whatever, I hope you use your faith to love others.